Weighing in on luxury

Richard Mille

I had a thought last week. Whilst looking at something very expensive I tried to work out whether anyone else looking at it would ascertain it’s value and therefore know how much the owner had spent on it. And more importantly “did it matter”?

After all why do so many people aspire to own expensive things? Is it because they deliver a feature or function not available in cheaper items? Is it because the more expensive item is likely to last longer and therefore the cheaper version is poorer value for money. Or is it just because other people will view it and know how affluent the owner is?

I suspect the last point is the main reason people want to buy in to luxury goods and it’s why companies spend so much to build a brand and why logos are a currency all of their own and are protected vigorously against fraudulent use.

But does any of this make an item luxurious?

To me luxury is about how an item makes me feel, which admittedly may include a bit of exclusivity and snobbishness.

When I think of cars I want luxury to make me feel relaxed in a quiet cabin, unable to hear the engine (unless I want to), warmed by heated seats and powerful enough not to leave me anxious when trying to overtake the slow lorry in front of me. I also want it to look good as I walk up to it each morning.

With watches it’s slightly different. I like the look of certain watches but am happy to say that not all expensive watches are lookers. Some are too decorated, some actually start to look like cheap trinkets as more “value” is added and some are far too discreet.

But one thing I do want in a watch is some weight. Not wrist breakingly, forearm snappingly heavy but I want to know I am still wearing a watch without looking down all the time. If I pick up a long admired watch and find it a little light I feel genuine disappointment and deflation. This was very apparent when I blagged my way into trying on a Richard Mille recently. Despite the ‘racing machine on the wrist’ strap line I struggled with the fact that this extended to Formula 1 style weight loss as well.

I don’t think I’m the only one to equate weight to luxury. I’ve no idea if the following is true but I’ve heard a story where a RM distributor was showing a potential client some new models at a restaurant. One of the models was accidentally left behind and when the panicked sales guys ran back into the restaurant he was informed that the waiter had taken the watch with him thinking it was no more than a child’s toy watch. I am guessing that this was down to the fact that it felt no more substantial than a cheap Mickey Mouse watch.


Richard Mille

Yet we all know how much RM pieces cost, and there’s another story that I’ve read RM give personally to a journalist about how a client thanked him for producing distinctive and very expensive watches. This allowed him to show his wealth at the golf club without having to drive his equally expensive car into the lobby.

But to me it’s still all about the weight….